IACHR Rejects All Forms of Recruitment of Children and Adolescents by Armed Groups and Urges the Mexican State to Protect the Life and Personal Integrity of This Population

April 22, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) rejects the recruitment of some 30 Nahua children between 6 and 11 years of age into the armed community police group known as the Founding Towns Regional Community Authority Coordinator (CRAC-PF) in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, supposedly to defend the community from the actions of criminal groups. The IACHR urged the State to strengthen the adoption of measures needed to protect the children's lives and personal integrity by taking an intercultural approach and guaranteeing their best interests.

According to publicly available information, on April 10, during a community assembly, it was publicly announced that approximately 30 children would be joining the CRAC-PF community police force in the Montaña region of Guerrero as part of a self-defense initiative in the area. At the event, the armed civilian group called on the federal and state governments to protect and guarantee the security of indigenous communities in the area in response to violence perpetrated by organized criminal groups and comply with agreements signed regarding assistance to the families of victims of criminal violence and displacement. The IACHR noted that at least two public events recruiting children and adolescents from Nahua communities took place in 2019 and 2020.

At the public hearing held as part of its 175th period of Sessions in March 2020, the IACHR received information on the rise in forced recruitment of children and adolescents by organized criminal organizations and armed groups. The Mexican State reported on its commitment to combat forced recruitment initiatives and discussed the intervention of the federal and state government in the specific case of those who were recruited by community police in Guerrero, so as to provide them with comprehensive care and address the need for greater security and assistance for victims of criminal violence and displacement.

In this regard, the IACHR has pointed out that the recruitment or use of children and adolescents in the activities of armed groups continually jeopardizes their lives, personal integrity, and development, while also constituting situations of abuse and exploitation. In addition to the above, it noted once again that States have an additional obligation to protect children and adolescents from all forms of violence, including acts perpetrated by private individuals. The latter entails a duty to make greater efforts to adopt prevention policies to avoid situations that expose children from being victims of violence perpetrated by criminal groups.

In this sense, the IACHR urged the State of Mexico to strengthen its adoption of measures to prevent children and adolescents from the Nahua indigenous populations of Guerrero from being recruited to carry out activities that relate to the surveillance or security of their communities. It also urged the state to continue to strengthen and implement security and protection measures for Nahua communities and to provide care and assistance for victims of crime and displacement.

Finally, the IACHR called on the State to comply with its commitments to take effective measures to identify forced recruitment in Mexico and ensure comprehensive protection and reparation for the rights of children and adolescents who are obliged to form part of armed groups. It also noted that the adoption of legislative measures to criminalize forced recruitment initiatives is a first step toward combating this.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 099/21